Reformed churches and denominations summarize the message of the Bible in statements of faith called Creeds or Confessions. These creeds and confessions are usually very old, because what these churches and denominations believe is nothing new. They are repositories of what the Holy Spirit has been teaching the church for centuries. Reformed Churches value them for several reasons:
- Creeds and Confessions are used as tools to teach church members what God reveals in the Bible.
- Creeds and Confessions bring unity to the Church by providing a standard for agreement and fellowship among churches and denominations. Churches that agree with a certain Statement of Faith generally know that their beliefs are similar and compatible.
- Creeds and Confessions protect the teaching of the church from the changing whims of culture and popular belief. How many churches do you know that have given in to worldly pressure to change what they believe?
"No creed but the Bible." You may have heard something like this before. Unfortunately, this statement fails to acknowledge that all Christians, churches, and denominations make statements of faith every time they summarize, teach, or preach anything about God. Unless one is willing to preach using only the words of Scripture and nothing else (in other words, to simply read the Bible aloud), one cannot avoid creating informal statements of faith in every conversation about God. Even most modern, "non-creedal" churches include in their constitutions some brief Statement of Faith. They therefore have no grounds to argue against the use of more formal, lengthy, time-honored Statements of Faith. "No Creed but the Bible" is just not possible. Whether written or unwritten, formal, or informal, all churches create Statements of Faith. Why not use one that has providentially stood the test of time?
The Westminster Confession of Faith
Reformed creeds come in different shapes and sizes, but they tend to share many of the same ideas. Chief among them is the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). In the mid-1600's dozens of godly scholars and preachers collaborated for years to accurately summarize the teaching of Scripture. Today, the WCF is chiefly used by the Presbyterians. But the Baptists have their own version of it, The London Baptist Confession of 1689. The Baptists used the WCF as a template for this confession, which reveals that the Baptists have a strong, Reformed heritage. Thankfully, many Baptist churches continue to affirm their beautiful and historic creed.